I wanted to take this time to thank all of you who participated in the Spectrum For Living Giving Tree Project. Spectrum For Living is a non-profit organization that helps people with Developmental Disabilities achieve their maximum potential. The North Haledeon Adult Training Center has been located in our church building for over twenty years. I can’t begin to tell you how proud I am of our congregation and the friends of our congregation for supplying 53 gifts to the people involved in the Giving Tree project. Because we are a small church I was sure that we would never be able to buy for all 53 clients and told the director of the Spectrum program that we would try our best but to be ready in case we could not cover for them all. I was sure we couldn’t and had some back up plans in place. Not only did I think that this would be a big challenge for us but it also comes on the heels of the collection of Crises Care Kits (24) that we gathered to help in the relief efforts for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan that hit the Philippines in November. In addition our church family has been busy in many areas, including serving in our Men’s Shelter Ministry every other Thursday evening. But the people in our church as well as many friends of our church congregation (those who do not attend High Mountain) continue to give selflessly and sacrificially, truly being lights to the world and salt to the earth.
I wish everyone could have seen the sheer joy and excitement of each person who received a gift the Monday before Christmas. When they received their gift wrapped present (from Santa!) there were smiles from ear to ear. There was a buzz in the gymnasium and I could sense the Holy Spirit moving in and through the people there. I received many “thank you”s from the staff and the clients and although most of the people could not say it I know they were deeply grateful and happy. I pass on to you all their appreciation and gratitude but I can also tell you that I…and we…are the ones who are blessed.
For the last several years our church had participated in the Advent Conspiracy, a movement where we practice four things:
- Worship Fully
- Spend Less
- Give More and
- Love All.
Although we did not officially promote the Advent Conspiracy this year I believe we lived it out. What we have been teaching and encouraging is taking place naturally, as part of our culture, as part of the DNA of our church. I am grateful and humbled to be part of a group of people, to be the pastor of a gathering of Christ followers, who care for those who are in need, who love without limitation and are willing to give of themselves, not only at Christmas, not only during a crises, but throughout the year. We may not always do it right and we may have a long way to go but we are moving in the right direction.
Saint Paul wrote: For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10). The “good works” are not just for a season. The “good works” are a natural outgrowth of who we are as imitators of Christ. Keeping this in mind, Christmas and the life of giving to others are to be part and parcel of the Christian life. I think the, reformed, rejuvenated, reborn Ebenezer Scrooge said it well when he declared, “I will honor Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all the year.”
Here is the closing prayer we prayed at our Christmas Eve service:
When the song of the angels is stilled, When the star in the sky is gone, When the kings and princes are home; When the shepherds are back with their flocks, The work of Christmas begins:To find the lost, To feed the hungry, To release the prisoner, To rebuild the nations, To bring peace among the people, To make music in the heart. Lord, grant us grace to begin the work of Christmas.
I think that is a wonderful prayer to lead us into 2014.
What do you think?